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first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 In the past, these customers made their choices on buying a van mainly from brochures and videotapes. Now, they can go to a showroom and test-drive all the models – just as the rest of us do when looking for a car. “In Southern California, they say if you don’t have a car you don’t fit in,” said Scott Deacon. “Well, a lot more people with limited mobility are fitting in and enjoying a higher quality of life now.” Deacon has spent more than 35 years in the Valley adapting vehicles for the physically disabled through his company Advanced Mobility Inc. Recently, he joined forces as a vice president with MobilityWorks, a national company building and selling wheelchair-adaptive vehicles. Nationally, more than 1 million people use a wheelchair to live fuller lives, and 12 million more can’t walk more than a few blocks without help. Yet, only 180,000 use an adaptive vehicle to get around and enjoy the lifestyle most people take for granted. That’s all starting to change. “This van is my legs,” said Bob D’Angelo after driving down from Somis to have his van serviced. While waiting, D’Angelo and his wife, Carolyn, check out the new models. At the top end there’s the Toyota XLE Limited, going for $62,000 with all the bells and whistles. And there’s the standard model in the $40,000 range, Dallara said. If that’s too expensive, she has used vans that start at $10,000. “If somebody drove a Lexus before, they’d probably want the XLE Limited,” she said. “I just had a librarian in her 50s buy one and have ghost flames painted on. You’d be surprised how many people want their vans customized.” The dealership sells 20 to 30 vans a month that come off the assembly line elsewhere with their floors lowered 10 inches, for wheelchair access, and computerized ramp systems installed. “We personalize them here with whatever the customer wants, including ghost flames,” Dallara said. In the service bay, June and Steve Dunn from Pasadena wait for repairs on the ramp door of the van they bought last year. “She’s the driver now because I don’t drive anymore,” said Steve, 82, looking over at his wife sitting in her wheelchair. “We still get out to restaurants and shows, still lead an active life. But without this van, we wouldn’t be able to. It’s been a godsend.” MobilityWorks is located at 7720 Sepulveda Blvd., in Van Nuys. Its phone number is (818) 780-1788, and its web address is www.mobilityworks.com. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Dennis McCarthy, (818) 713-3749 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Julienne Dallara takes a quick look around the lot on Monday as she waits for customers to arrive at the San Fernando Valley’s newest vehicle dealership. She won’t have any problem recognizing them. They’ll be in wheelchairs, just as she is. Dallara, a paraplegic, sells wheelchair-adaptive vans at MobilityWorks on Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys. There’s a lot filled with new and used vans, an indoor showroom, a full-service bay, a lounge and even a service counter where a wheelchair-accessible van can be rented while the customer’s van is in the shop. In other words, it’s a typical dealership – but for people with disabilities. last_img read more

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